UM Today UM Today University of Manitoba UM Today UM Today UM Today
News from
Rady Faculty of Health Sciences
UM Today Network
A respiratory therapy student performing an endotracheal intubation on a mannequin.

Respiratory therapy to double intake this fall

March 31, 2024 — 

The respiratory therapy program at the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences will double its class size this fall to address an identified need for respiratory therapists in Manitoba.

Class sizes for the three-year bachelor of respiratory therapy (RT) program will increase from 20 to 40 students per year. The province announced funding of $1.34 million to expand the program in summer 2023.

The program began in 1960 at the Winnipeg General Hospital and moved to UM in 2001. It is the only English-speaking entry-to-practice bachelor of respiratory therapy degree program in Canada.

The program had a 16-seat capacity until Fall 2022, when it was increased by four seats due to an increased need during the COVID pandemic. However, that was not enough to meet the province’s need. RT department head Denise Mackey noted Statistics Canada has identified a labour shortage for respiratory therapists in Canada over the next 10 years with an estimated 20-25 per cent vacancy rate in Manitoba.

The need was so great at the height of the pandemic that, in 2020 and 2021, Manitoba Association of Registered Respiratory Therapists enabled all students in their final year to graduate four weeks early and enter the workforce.

Mackey said the need for RTs is still strong, noting retirements in the profession as one of the main reasons. This need, she said, almost guarantees employment for grads at the end of the program.

“Almost all our RT students receive job offers before they graduate. Clinical sites are practically competing to hire them, and students have their choice of where to work,” she said.

RTs grads find employment in diagnostic laboratories, community care, education and research as well as hospital emergency rooms and critical care units.

“We are also starting to see RTs expand into primary care and hope to create a larger presence within primary care and rural communities moving forward,” Mackey said.

She noted the college is also committed to addressing the under-representation of respiratory therapists in Indigenous and northern communities. Five of the programs seats are reserved for Indigenous applicants, while an additional five will be allocated to students from the north who may or may not be Indigenous.

“The college has been doing a lot of work with Indigenous communities, holding retreats and participating in various collaborations. There’s a definite need for RTs and health care workers in these communities,” she said.

Part of the outreach in northern and Indigenous communities has involved looking at barriers that may be keeping potential students from applying, such as admission requirements.

“We also hope to make our program more accessible by exploring the possibility of remote options that would remove barriers for people in northern and Indigenous communities.

The program’s next intake starts Fall 2024. The deadline for applications is May 1.


© University of Manitoba • Winnipeg, Manitoba • Canada • R3T 2N2

Emergency: 204-474-9341